Last night, I had an epiphany: I realized why I had struggled to finish my last book, and why I seem to be fighting writer’s block as I start my next book. It all stems from the same date: election day in November, 2016. On that day, my country, the land to which I return from each foreign journey, died.
This website is not just my blog, but my author headquarters, where I write about travel and…well, writing. I have scrupulously avoided any political discourse or opinions on this site: this is my author’s site, period, and you don’t piss in your own swimming pool. And going on from here, it will remain that way.
But I had to address the 600-pound gorilla in the room, and I had to face my own writing difficulties before I could move on and work on my next book. As a democracy, we take our freedoms largely for granted; when we “talk politics” at the Thanksgiving dinner table, it is usually, at best, a spirited banter that dances close to the line of anger but rarely crosses it. But when we start to see our democracy endangered, even the most uninvolved of us start to become political animals. Those of us who are writers start to feel a treacherous shifting under our feet that threatens our need for freedom to create the works that pour out of our minds onto paper.
Without fully understanding it at the time, the 2016 presidential election had a devastating effect on me. Less than a hundred years since my father had spent three years of his life fighting fascism in Europe, we had elected a hate-mongering authoritarian to the Oval Office. If that wasn’t bad enough, my OCD kicked in to send me into a dizzying depression. And it kept getting worse: the new president had a staggering ignorance of American and World History and domestic and foreign policy, and showed no interest in learning; the news agencies filled their schedules with non-stop coverage by talking heads about every event even marginally associated with the new president; and I, like someone who had stepped into quicksand and was slow to realize my predicament, became morbidly obsessed with following all of the developments.
And last night, I suddenly lurched out of the dumb-president/omnipresent-media quagmire that I had made a part of my life for the past year. NO MORE! I just don’t give a damn anymore. I will check CNN.com for the latest news each day, but beyond that, I am done with worrying myself sick about what I now think of as a done deal. Nobody in authority wants to do anything to correct matters; a spineless Congress has abdicated it’s job as an independent branch of government to check the other branches.
I am a writer (at least that’s what I’d like to believe). I write light essays and travel pieces, so I figure that I will be one of the last authors that they will eventually come for. Until then, I will write, and the country can go to hell in a handcart (it sounds so cute when people talk as if there will actually be a 2020 election).
No more writer’s block or other excuses for not writing. I’m off my soapbox, and this site will remain strictly non-political from this point. I’m free of my malaise – and I’m writing!